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Here we go to the South Side

Techno musician and tea impresario Moby has been attacked by two men while signing autographs outside a Boston club at 1 AM.

He declined medical attention.

Here's the CNN story.

But there's more, courtesy of Moby's daily journal. Here's his report about the attack. An excerpt:
the assault could've been a lot worse. but i'm very curious as to why 3 men would coordinate an attack on me? you know, 3 against 1? and the'one' in question is me, hardly the most physically threatening person in the world. so if one or more of the people who attacked me tonight happen to be reading this, i'd be really curious to know why you attacked me.you could anonymously sign on to the boards and describe the attack from your perspective. i'm honestly very curious.

Poor Moby.

posted by Anon. 2:45 PM
Morning music

Listened to "Rosalita" on the drive in. Now there's a way to start the day. Heading over the Cahuenga Pass, taking advantage of the sun roof, and taking special joy in the part near the end of the song where the music cuts out and Bruce and the guys just clap along to "And your papa says he knows that I don't have any money..."

Felt so good, I went and repeated the song three times. Count on Bruce to make you actually wish that you lived in San Diego, if only to spend time at that little cafe where they play guitars all night and all day.

I'm betting it's not the place that Jewel or Stone Temple Pilots got their start.

Then getting in to work, I put on Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. This is an album I wouldn't hesitate to put in my top ten favorite records of the last ten years. But what's strange is that I also think it's an inconsistent record -- there are five or six terrific songs, and then the rest either varies from filler ("Jackson," "Greenville") to songs that I think are just bad ("Joy" and its one chord; "Can't Let Go" with Lucinda's Bonnie Raitt imitation.)

But the good songs are so good, I don't mind -- besides, that's why the Lord gave us compact disc technology, so that we could skip the bad parts. And when you have "Right in Time," Lucinda's ditty to self-stimulation and fantasization; "Drunken Angel," with that great image of a "derelict in duct tape shoes"; and especially "Metal Firecracker" -- with that great chorus telling her ex to not go off and share with others the secrets that she revealed to him -- well, you've got an album that gets to know your turntable pretty well over the years.

Add that to the factor that Steve Earle and Roy Bittan finally gave Lucinda both production and a band that matched her talents -- while I love her records that came before this, they didn't have too much in the way of dimension -- and you've got an album that deserves most of its hype.

posted by Anon. 12:03 PM

Josh writes from Brooklyn:

Did you catch Springsteen on Conan? Pretty sweet, as far as TV performances go. Loved the middle-America-audience shots. How about the Foreman Grill gift for Conan? Weird. Second on Box Full of Letters and Hallelujah.

Went to the Loose Fur (Jeff Tweedy and Glenn Kotche from Wilco, Jim O'Rourke from Stereolab, Sonic Youth) show in Brooklyn last weekend. Some good stuff, some overwrought hard-guitar jams. Album in early 2003. Toward the end of the show someone yelled out, "You suck, Tweedy!" Seemed like he might cry.

Tortured response a few minutes later: "You know, sometimes I think I do suck, sitting next to a bassist (Darin Gray) like this" (or something to that effect).

I guess he was a pretty good bassist, but man, toughen up, Jeff.

posted by Anon. 7:48 AM


That's entertainment!

There's happy news today. Cardinal Law is finally stepping down, and Trent Lott might not be too far behind. As a progressive Catholic, these are both pieces of news that I intend to celebrate. I'm listening to the Jam's Compact Snap to get into the spirit. Now playing: "In the City." Yeah, baby.

And tonight, Mary Beth and I are getting steak at Hillmont, which I hear is delicious.

So on the way to the restaurant, I intend to follow the great, simple advice that Van Morrison sang on the wonderful, wonderful "Caravan" around thirty years ago:

"Turn it up. Little higher. Radio."

posted by Anon. 6:00 PM
It took me years to get those souvenirs

In one of my favorite songs, "Box Full of Letters" by Wilco, Jeff Tweedy sings about all the debris left behind after the end of a romantic relationship.

I've got a lot of your records
In a separate stack
Some things I might want to hear
But I guess I'll give 'em back

At the end of every break-up, you're left with the bare exchange of goods. Or, as John Prine called 'em, souvenirs. As covered in better print and prose than this, I was in a relationship that ended in early October, despite my attempts to prolong the break-up through the end of October, in and through November, and even early December.

Never great at cutting rope when it would be in my best interest, I instead did the usual dumb guy thing of, "I'm going to prove to you what a great guy I am, and then how can you resist me?"

Which, naturally, inspired the inevitable response: "Watch me."

Most of my belongings -- the shirts that were in her closet, the books that were on her endtable -- were already handed back to me from her trunk to my trunk in an awkward exchange, in the parking lot behind a Santa Monica restaurant. One block away from the restaurant where we first met. But I still have to pick up my guitar and about a dozen CDs that she didn't hand over in the first exchange. So there you have my Saturday afternoon activity. We've arranged a time in the afternoon when she won't be there, and I'll gather the things. And that'll be that.

I remember being 17 and accompanying an older friend at the time -- a friend of the family -- over to the apartment of a woman who had broken up with him. They set a time. He used the key she had given him. She had left him a note that I remember was almost offensive in its blaseness. Terse and friendly, like a note you'd leave for the cat-sitter. He collected a couple sweaters, and a couple of old baby photos of his that he'd given her.

I remember standing there and thinking, "So this is how it ends?"

But of course, it's not always how it ends. He just had his second child with a woman he married 18 years after they graduated from Harvard Law School together. They seem happy. I can't imagine him with the woman from the apartment, who was stiff and dull. (Pretty, though.)

I think I've talked about this before, but so often what we do take away from the relationships that don't last, the ones that start off with the best intentions but end with the worst of aftertastes, are some lessons, some things to work on in the future, some happy memories, and an amalgamation of new books and CDs and songs that we'll carry with us for quite some time.

And that sometimes, when that music comes on in a jukebox somewhere, or the book comes up in conversation, we'll think of that person, and with luck, the memory that goes through our mind is one of the happy ones. That rather than discourage us from the end of the relationship, give us hope for the possibilities of connection. (See The Waterboys' "And a Bang On the Ear.")

Not too far away from that is the sentiment that Springsteen sings in "Bobby Jean," from Born In The USA. Springsteen wrote it not for a romantic relationship, but as a good-bye to Little Steven, when he was leaving the band and striking out on his own.

But the lyrics still pertain to how we connect to music, how music connects to us, and most importantly, how music connects us to each other.

Maybe you'll be out there on that road somewhere
In some bus or train traveling along
In some motel room there'll be a radio playing
And you'll hear me sing this song

Well if you do, you'll know I'm thinking of you
And all the miles in between
And I'm just calling one last time not to change your mind
But just to say I miss you baby, good luck goodbye, Bobby Jean

But the final word belongs not to Bruce Springsteen, but a girl who spent her summers at the same Jersey shore. My mother said, "Hey -- if it didn't happen all the time, what would they write songs about?"

posted by Anon. 5:40 PM

Always fun to see from where people are linking to this site -- both in terms of the sites that brought them here, but also, occasionally, when GoStats actually identifies the servers. Most times, the server is identified by random numbers like or just one of eight trillion AOL servers. But then I'll get visitors from NASA, from the Conde Nast family of magazines, and, in the last week, a zillion hits from the William Morris Agency. Which doesn't represent me, but does represent my mother. Fun times.

posted by Anon. 5:15 PM
'Tis the season

You could get one of the Very Special Christmas albums. Or Willie Nelson's Pretty Paper. Or pluck Otis Redding's "White Christmas" or "Merry Christmas Baby" off of one of his box sets. Or Elvis' "Blue Christmas."

Or you could just buy this. The greatest Christmas album of 'em all. I've never actually owned it. I've just listened to it at friends' homes.

I think I'm buying it today.

posted by Anon. 4:50 PM
Now listening to...

There's been a big Jeff Buckley cult for a long time, even long before he made the fatal mistake of diving into the Mississippi River at midnight wearing combat boots. I was never a member of that cult; I think he had a great voice, but the limited amount of material he did produce during his short time with us didn't show off much in the way of great songwriting ability.

But that said, his version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" is gorgeous; it's become ubiquitous, used in many soundtracks, and even then covered almost in a note-for-note arrangement by Rufus Wainwright for the Shrek soundtrack. Even so, Buckley's version towers over everyone's, even that of Cohen. Accompanied by little more than high crisp notes way up on the fretboard for most of the song, Buckley's recording, available on Grace, is ethereal yet heartfelt, ghostly yet human. Grace can often be found in bargain bins for cheap, and this song certainly makes it worth picking up.

posted by Anon. 3:01 PM
What Randy Newman has wrought

It seems like every prominent singer/songwriter of the 70s has decided that they'd just love, love, love to win some Oscar gold. Instead of going the Bruce Springsteen way -- record a serious song for a serious movie -- Paul Simon is evidentally going the Randy Newman route: record a song for a kid's flick. While glancing through the trades today, I noticed that Paramount is taking out "for your consideration" ads in support of Simon's song from... the Wild Thornberry's Movie.


posted by Anon. 2:54 PM
Compilation contemplation

This weekend, I might begin a favorite end-of-year activity: the compilation of my 2002 year in review disc. It'll draw from at least the following albums released in 2002:

Kasey Chambers, Barricades and Brickwalls
Caitlin Cary, While You Weren't Looking
Patty Griffin, 1,000 Kisses
Billy Bragg, England, Half English
Bruce Springsteen, The Rising
Peter Gabriel, Up
Coldplay, A Rush of Blood to the Head
The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Steve Earle, Jerusalem
Peter Wolf, Sleepless
David Baerwald, Here Comes the New Folk Underground
Norah Jones, Come Away with Me
Beth Orton, Daybreaker
Paul Westerberg, Stereo
Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Guy Clark, The Dark
Linda Thompson, Fashionably Late
Jack Johnson, Brushfire Fairytales (has a copyright date of 2000, actually, but it broke this year)
Sam Moore, Plenty Good Lovin'
Neil Young, Are You Passionate?

I won't vouch for all of these -- some of them were clunkers. But, if you buy any of them through the Amazon link I've attached that gives money to poor little Palmermix -- well, I won't complain.

There are still a few more 2002 discs I've been meaning to pick up, including the new Aimee Mann and Beck records, this past year's Dave Alvin live record, some other stuff. I'll also likely put Aimee Mann's cover of James Taylor's "Shed a Little Light," recorded for The West Wing, and maybe songs from the Blasters anthology and the Dylan 1975 live release.

A fun weekend activity. All I need is for it to rain. But it never rains in Southern California...

posted by Anon. 2:14 PM

"Anniversary Song" is now playing. I've been to two weddings in the last four years that have used this as a wedding song. A good choice. Especially for the last verse:

Have you ever seen a sight as beautiful
As a face in a crowd of people that lights up just for you
Have you ever felt more fresh or wonderful
As when you wake by the side of a boy or girl
Who's pledged their love to you

Well I've known all these things
And the joys they can bring
Now every morning there's a cup of coffee
And I wear your ring

posted by Anon. 9:52 AM
Now listening to...

Just got in to work, and before the 10 am meeting, I'm catching up on correspondence while listening to a Cowboy Junkies compilation. Though there are several Junkies' anthologies available for yonder consumer's purchase, this was one that RCA/BMG were sending out to the press around the time of the Junkies' lackluster Pale Sun, Crescent Moon. (I guess I received it as a member of the college press. Such as it was.)

The knock against the Junkies has always been that they were too atmospheric, too laid back. Yet that might be precisely why a compilation like this works for me: it brings together their most melodic songs, with beautiful harmonica and lazy mandolins, without the filler. Oh, I think the Junkies have had very good albums -- Lay It Down, The Trinity Session -- and one great album, Black Eyed Man. But they've also had great songs -- "Anniversary Song," "'Cause Cheap is How I Feel" -- on albums that offered little more.

Now on as I type this: "Sun Comes Up It's Tuesday Morning," a stream of observations and thoughts in the day after a break-up. "And anyways, I'd rather listen to Coltrane than to go through all that shit again."" There might be break-up songs as good as this one. There are few that are better.

"And I just gotta tell you, that I kinda like this extra few feet in my bed."

posted by Anon. 9:47 AM



A happy day today: my boss gave the staff our Christmas presents, and in addition to a beautiful leather attache binder thingie, he also gave us iPods.

We like.

posted by Anon. 10:49 PM
Take me down to the Paradise City

To be in high school in Los Angeles in 1989 was to be in high school for the era of Guns N' Roses. I spent my high school years listening to Springsteen, REM, The Replacements, the Who, and the Stones. But my best friend from much of high school, Matt, was a huge fan of GN'R. Or as they were often known or described, GN'FR. (Do the math.) He'd write "Axl Rose is the Messiah" on his history textbook, and spend vast portions of the money he earned working at a liquor store in Encino on GN'R live bootlegs. He grew his hair long, way long, and one day even delivered a bottle of wine to Axl Rose's house. (How he found out where Axl lived is a story I reserve for in-person interaction, but it's a good one.)

I was always skeptical of GN'R, due to my natural distrust of bands that attract "scenes," but compared to the awful hair metal of bands like Motley Crue and Poison and Warrant, GN'R at least had... well, they could write melodies, Slash had a great, full guitar sound, and Axl did have one of the more unique voices in music during that period. It's interesting to note that when "Welcome to the Jungle" first came out -- for the soundtrack to the Dirty Harry film the Dead Pool, a month or two, I think, before Appetite for Destruction came out -- it was getting as much airplay on the alternative station of KROQ as it was on LA's metal station at the time, KNAC.

The story after Appetite is well-known. They release a half-new, half-older EP, Lies, which features a great slow song in "Patience" and then the infamous, awful, what-were-they-thinking racist rant of "One in a Million." (This did, though, at least inspire a great scene at the Rolling Stones Steel Wheels concerts of '89, where members of Living Colour and Guns N Roses traded barbs from their opening sets.) Then came a delay before they met with the God of Two Simultaneous Album Hubris -- who met with Bruce Springsteen at this time, too -- with the two Use Your Illusion albums, which actually were better than most people gave credit to, even if they suffered from bombast and gloss, as Axl decided that his main idol was not Robert Plant but Freddie Mercury.

Then came an album of weirdly chosen covers, the Spaghetti Incident, and then the band fell apart, and Axl drifted off into seclusion. In the last year or two, there was much talk about Axl putting together a new band -- including former Replacement Tommy Stinson -- under the Guns N Roses name, and working on a mysterious opus titled Chinese Democracy. (Huh?)

All looked exciting. Hard rock fans everywhere held great hope that this was going to represent the true comeback of headbanging rock.

Then things started going wrong.

posted by Anon. 10:46 PM

... is on Conan tonight, 12:35 pm. He's playing "Kitty's Back" -- now there's an old one from the back catalog -- and "Merry Christmas Baby," his super version of the old Phil Spector Christmas classic. Yeah, baby!

posted by Anon. 10:26 PM


Someday, we'll be together

Finishing up my lunch break, and it seemed like a good time to opine on Standing in the Shadows of Motown, the documentary about the Funk Brothers, Motown's band of session musicians who played on, like, a zillion great songs. I saw it this past Saturday, and liked it quite a bit.

Random thoughts:

1) The obvious parallel being made to this film is Buena Vista Social Club. While I enjoyed the BVSC album, the documentary seemed strange because the real story that should've been told was Cooder going down there to record and discover these guys. Instead, the documentary was made after the fact of the album being a hit, like as an after-thought -- hey, the album was a hit, so let's make a movie.

The Motown documentary, while dealing with a similar concert reunion event at the heart of it -- the history and profiles of the musicians are intercut with songs from the concert, featuring several B-list artists singing the vocals (Ben Harper, Joan Osbourne, Bootsy Collins) -- deals much more with the history of these musicians, but also most fascinatingly, the specific skills and choices that these musicians made in their performances that set these songs apart.

From James Jamerson's bass style, to the three very different styles of the three Motown drummers, to how the tambourine became a part of the sound... this is much more a documentary for people who love music.

2) While there's a particularly moving story about the bassist James Jamerson having to scalp a ticket to attend a Motown 25 concert, years after his heyday, there isn't much mention at all about how these musicians who so created a sound were so cut out of the money and profits that Gordy's enterprise made. They describe Gordy moving Motown to Los Angeles and cutting them out of the deal, but very little about how these amazingly talented musicians saw very little in the way of money from their contribution to the sound.

3) The performances of the songs in the concert footage are a bit lackluster -- it feels like you're watching an oldies cover band at a Bar Mitzvah -- but there are some surprises. Namely, Joan Osbourne. Whom I've never liked at all, but she delivers on a version of "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted." Less impressive is M'Shell Ndgeocello, who sings, "You Really Got a Hold on Me" as if she's the scared girl whose friends finally get her to go up there on the karaoke stage, barely mumbling the words.

4) More than anything else, what's interesting is how likable these musicians are. There's a great story told by a bassist and guitarist (both white), about the African-American vibes player helping them out the night of the riots in Detroit that followed the Martin Luther King assasination, and getting them to safety. You see it in these guys' eyes how fond they are of each other. Quite moving.

5) At one point, the guys show you how they each contributed the ingredients to "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," one of my favorite Motown songs. It's the best demonstration of what the Motown sound is, and what made it.

6) There are a couple of cases where stories are being told, and the filmmakers, deciding that the stories themselves were perhaps not interesting enough on their own, decided to "recreate" the scenes with the story being told in voiceover. With actors playing the parts of the musicians back in the early 60s. One of the few flaws in an otherwise lovely film. Easily one of the best movies I've seen all year.

posted by Anon. 1:59 PM
Talking to Hugo Ledbetter

Bass is never the instrument that jumps out at you from albums the singer/songwriter tradition, but Van Morrison's Astral Weeks is an exception. The bass, by Richard Davis, is amazing, not so much keeping a rhythm but instead defying a rhythm, leading a way through that strange Celtic atmosphere that Morrison created on his second solo album from 1968. It's an album which for so many reasons should sound dated to the hippie, late 60s era, yet somehow sounds timeless. "Astral Weeks," "Sweet Thing," and perhaps especially Van Morrison's song about an aging transvestite, "Madame George"...

I often talk about good Sunday albums. They're the records which I will play when I'm at home, enjoying the act of doing nothing much at all, and for that very reason, they're sometimes the records which most resonate, as I'm most in the listening mode when I enjoy them.

Astral Weeks is such an album, and any one who has embraced the Nick Drake records these last few years would do well to own it. It's almost the counterpoint to Drake: instead of Drake's despair, Morrison sees hope. Instead of Drake's solitude, Morrison seeks connection.

It's a beautiful album, possibly in my top ten favorite records by anyone.

posted by Anon. 1:00 PM


Now listening to...

Fulfillingness' First Finale. Specifically, "Boogie On Reggae Woman." My favorite Stevie album from that period is still Talking Book, but still... just think about it.

Ain't it amazing that it took Stevie Wonder less than ten years to get from, "I want to do it to you til you hollar from more" to "I just called to say I love you"?

Okay, don't get depressed on me.

posted by Anon. 12:47 PM
I've heard that word before

Some catching up to do in sharing tales of weekend activity. Saturday night, I ate my favorite burger in the great city of Los Angeles -- well, okay, if we're calling a spade a spade, Father's Office is actually in the city of Santa Monica.

But damn, Los Angeles should find a way to get tax dollars out of the Father's Office burger, 'cause it's dee-lishis and definitely worth the 12 bucks.

I then walked over to a wine-tasting party off of Montana, at my co-worker's apartment. David has many great qualities, but he'll be the first to tell you that he's not into music. I walked in, and the music that was playing?

"I Am a Rock," by Simon and Garfunkel.

"Don't talk of love, well I've heard the word before."

Hmmm. Not exactly the song to set the night a-reeling. David sensed that it wasn't the right choice, and he designated me as the fixer of the situation. I found Stevie Wonder and U2 on his shelves. Seconds later, "Superstition" was playing, and all was well with the world.

My father often talked about a guy who lived in his dorm at Berkeley, a sad guy who played his guitar a lot. (I think we've all had a guy like that in our dorms.) The problem was, the guy had an unfortunate speech impediment, such that when he sang "I Am a Rock," it came out as "I Am a Wok."

Some people are better off playing instrumentals.

posted by Anon. 12:17 PM
Dylan Monday

Josh A emails me that Greil Marcus has been going through a Dylan thing, too.

(I had a conversation at a party in Los Feliz Saturday night precisely about Greil's columns, which I generally enjoy, in part because of the seeming lack of structure or rhyme or reason to what makes the cut for his Real Life Top 10. They aren't always things he likes. They aren't always songs or albums. They're just ten things he feels like writing about that week. What a terrific column idea! You'd never run out of material.)

posted by Anon. 11:00 AM


Won't you scratch my itch, sweet Annie Rich

More soon -- including my take on Standing in the Shadows of Motown, which I saw yesterday -- but for now, here's Neil Strauss's piece in the New York Times on the great Gram Parsons.

Whose recent re-emergence coinciding with the Americana movement's continuing growth brings to mind that old Rolling Stone Jim Morrison cover: "He's hot. He's sexy. He's dead."

posted by Anon. 4:43 PM